What, it’s Tuesday? I accidentally forgot to post a playlist yesterday because I took the day off from work and forgot that the rest of the world keeps spinning while I sit and play Persona 5? Inconceivable!
- Sting, “We Work The Black Seam”: I’ve been working on notes and slideshows for next year, when I’ll be team-teaching a World History II class (my favorite class content!). This week, it’s the Industrial Revolution, so terrible conditions and black lung for everyone! Hurray!
- Taylor Swift, “Betty”: Am I including it because it’s a sweet song possibly about a same-sex crush she had as a teenager, or because my grandmother’s name is Betty? Who knows! And I’m not willing to examine that question any further.
- Pink Floyd, “Lost For Words”: Included for no other reason than to hear David Gilmour sing, “And they tell me to please go fuck myself/You know, you just can’t win.”
- Glen Phillips, “The Next Day”: Love this song, though I frequently got it confused with a David Bowie song of the same name.
- David Bowie, “The Next Day”: Love this song, though I frequently got it confused with a Glen Phillips song of the same name.
- Wilco, “The Late Greats”: “The best life never leaves your lungs.” Damn, ain’t that true. Or is it? I dunno. It’s a great line, though.
- Jars Of Clay, “Much Afraid”: Could this be a theme song for our time? It feels like it could be. It feels like there’s so much out there to be afraid of.
- Billy Bragg, “A New England”: I’ve loved this song since I first heard it many years ago. Grad school, maybe? There’s a simple charm to it, a searching quality that’s tricky to pull of and not sound like an asshole. Bragg manages it.
- Bob Dylan, “Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat)”: The way this song builds and builds until it finally explodes in that blistering, cathartic guitar solo at the end? *chef’s kiss*
- Rodney Crowell, “Oh Miss Claudia”: I’ve only started listening to this guy last week, but I already like his style and his songwriting. It’s just superb. I could have picked any song off the recent The Chicago Sessions and it would’ve been a good example of what he does, but I like the shuffley tempo and slightly off-kilter tone of this one.
Happy Monday! Today marks two years since I started doing the playlist a week thing. In honor of that, I’ve decided to revisit the first playlist and pick new songs by those ten artists. Have I doomed myself by placing a one-hit wonder on that first list? Let’s find out!
- Bruce Springsteen, “Radio Nowhere”: Starting out strong with the Boss, so there’s plenty of songs to choose from. This is one of the few latter-day Springsteen songs that I truly enjoy, and it reminds me so much of a song I wrote (“Complete Control,” for those who are curious). I think my song predated his, but I also doubt he knew anything about my song because it only got released this year finally.
- Johnny Cash, “A Boy Named Sue”: You can’t go wrong with a song written by Shel Silverstein and sung by Johnny Cash.
- Dog’s Eye View, “Umbrella”: Here’s where I thought I’d screwed myself. I barely remembered that first Dog’s Eye View song, and was pretty sure they hadn’t done anything else of note. Having heard this song, I’m still not 100% sure they did, but it’s…not bad. It’s okay. Fairly forgettable mid-90s earnest singer-songwriter stuff.
- Bob Dylan, “High Water (For Charley Patton)”: I blame this song for sending me down a delta blues rabbit hole last week. I ended up listening to a lot of Robert Johnson and Charley Patton. And boy, can Patton holler, y’all.
- The Interrupters, “Raised By Wolves”: These guys are just too much damn fun. I could honestly have picked just about any song off any of their albums and it would’ve been a banger. The “Ah-wooooo”s in the chorus kill me every time.
- Madonna, “Vogue”: It’s easy finding other well-known, popular Madonna songs. Finding other well-known, popular Madonna songs that I can stand? Taller order. This one’s pretty good for dancing music, I guess.
- Phoebe Bridgers, “If We Make It Through December”: Very quiet song, piano driven. Vocals almost a hushed a whisper. The lyrical content – about the struggles of surviving winter and the dark months – is quite depressing, but I kinda dig it.
- Redbone, “Come And Get Your Love”: Sometimes picking a second song from a specific band is a no-brainer. This is one of those moments.
- Aimee Mann, “Stranger Into Starman”: I’m a sucker for Aimee Mann songs and songs about crossword puzzles, so this was an easy pick.
- Hem, “The Pills Stopped Working”: My pills all still work just fine, singer for the band Hem. Maybe you need to go see your doctor again and get your prescriptions checked. Have you been taking the pills consistently? Have dosage levels changed?
Hello and happy Monday, folks! Today is not only the 100th playlist, but also my birthday! As a result, I’m changing things up a little. Instead of giving you a playlist of ten songs, it’s a playlist of ten albums, my (current) ten favorite albums of all time. Well, eleven albums. I can’t just play it straight. Let’s go:
- The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten: One of my absolute favorite bands from the past fifteen or so years, the Gaslight Anthem are always energetic and heartfelt and wear their Bruce Springsteen obsessions on their sleeves. While The ’59 Sound and American Slang are both brilliant, near-perfect albums as well, my favorite songs are all on Handwritten: “Howl,” “Biloxi Parish,” “Here Comes My Man,” “Too Much Blood,” and “Desire” are all-time greats, and the rest of the album doesn’t miss a shot.
- Tom Petty, Wildflowers: My love for this solo Petty outing is already well-documented, but I’d like to reiterate here that it’s still one of the most compelling, thoughtful albums ever recorded. I’ve only come to appreciate it more as I’ve grown older.
- The Beatles, Rubber Soul: The transitional albums for the Beatles – Rubber Soul and Revolver – have always been my favorites. They’re still putting out great pop music, but they’re experimenting with it more, trying new things, adding new instruments into the mix. It’s endlessly fascinating to listen to, and the songcraft and care they put into each song only grows on me year after year.
- Pink Floyd, Dark Side Of The Moon: I only recently gushed about this best of Pink Floyd’s albums, but it bears repeating: this is one of the best albums of that or any other decade, filled with daring experiments, soaring guitars, and the best damn wordless vocals ever delivered.
- Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself: It’s hard to pick a single Andrew Bird album as my favorite, as every one of his albums appears as a concise, well-mannered cosmos in and of itself, filled with interesting arrangements and beautiful violin. It was really down to this one or Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of…, and honestly the only thing that made Break It Yourself top Things Are Really Great Here is the inclusion of “Orpheo Looked Back.”
- Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska: The first and best of the Boss’s stripped down, acoustic-based albums. It features some serious subject matter and excellent songwriting, including some of my favorite Springsteen songs to play on guitar (including “Atlantic City” and “Open All Night”). It’s great to put on late at night with headphones.
- Bob Dylan, Love And Theft: You knew Dylan had to appear on this list. But did you suspect this particular album? Probably not. Maybe Blonde on Blonde or Highway 61 Revisited, or Blood on the Tracks, right? And while those are all amazing albums (and among my favorites, don’t get it twisted), my favorite is still Love and Theft. It’s Bob Dylan after he’s stopped caring what other people think about his music (which, admittedly, happened sometime around 1967, but I digress). He’s just making the music he enjoys, and damn does it sound good. His backing band is impeccable, his lyrics are sharp and incisive, and he even throws in a knock-knock joke.
- Gin Blossoms, New Miserable Experience: This one was a little out of left field for me. I didn’t listen to the Gin Blossoms back when they were popular in the ’90s. I was too busy listening to Pearl Jam and Pink Floyd. I totally missed their effective, heartfelt M.O.R. alternative rock. They just write good songs, songs that hold up even thirty years later (damn, New Miserable Experience came out 31 years ago. I’m dust). There’s not a bad song on this album (“Cheatin'” aside), and it’s one that I’ll throw on in the background for just about anything. It’s also great driving music.
- Wilco, A Ghost Is Born: While Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is the one that received all the critical acclaim and success, and rightly so, Ghost is still my favorite. From the noisy opener “At Least That’s What You Said” to closer “The Late Greats,” it’s just a series of well-written, well-executed songs, covering the American condition as it was in the early 2000s.
- Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings The Flood: Best Neko Case album, hands down. Sure, it’s got the megahit “Hold On Hold On” on it, but the rest of the album slaps just as hard. It’s moody and atmospheric and wistful all at once, full of sadness and hope and anger and so much more than I can ever even begin to describe here. If you haven’t listened to it, just go listen to it. You can thank me later.
- The National, High Violet: I knew I wanted to include an album from The National on the list, and it was down to between this one and Boxer. High Violet just barely edges Boxer out, though. From the opening strains of “Terrible Love” all the way through to closer “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,” there is not a single bad song on this album. It is just . . . perfect. No notes. Personal favorites include “Sorrow,” “Anyone’s Ghost,” and “Bloodbuzz, Ohio.” And the entire rest of the album, honestly. It’s wall to wall awesome.
Seems like everyone is cashing in these days, selling their soul to the highest bidder, trading their art for cash. I’m not against that, I just want my cut of the action. Here’s ten songs I’ve heard in commercials.
- Bob Seger, “Like A Rock”: Chevy trucks used this as their slogan for many years, as I recall. Here’s a compilation of their commercials featuring the song.
- Jimi Hendrix, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”: Hey, counterculture hero and guitar god Jimi Hendrix, how does it feel to be shilling for Acura these days? Seems legit, right?
- Blur, “Song 2”: Known more colloquially as the “Woo-HOO!” song, it featured quite prominently in an Intel commercial back in the day. I wonder if they had to change any of the lyrics?
- Bob Dylan, “Love Sick”: Man, if latter-day Dylan doesn’t make you wanna go out and buy skimpy lingerie, I don’t know what will. Maybe that’s Victoria’s secret?
- The Black Keys, “Howlin’ For You”: Why are so many of these for car commercials? Does no one else sell anything anymore?
- Yael Naim, “New Soul”: Featured in an Apple campaign for their then-new MacBook Air. It’s a good song. Apple picks good songs for their commercials, which should probably surprise no one.
- Tom Cochrane, “Life Is A Highway”: Okay, this one actually makes sense in a car commercial. Maybe not a Hyundai commercial from 95, but still…
- Hem, “The Part Where You Let Go”: I guess this one also kinda makes sense? It’s for an insurance commercial, so who even knows anymore.
- Sarah McLachlan, “Angel”: ASPCA, baby! You know I had to include this one and make everyone cry and go adopt a thousand puppies.
- Violent Femmes, “Blister In The Sun”: This one is actually kinda…painful? Violent Femmes, helping shill for an HP laptop, of all things? I’m all for selling out, but at least sell out to a decent company with a solid product, man.
- Neil Young, “Rockin’ In The Free World”: Bonus! This song hasn’t been used in a commercial (at least, not to my knowledge), but the original music video for it was so obviously a send-up of commercial culture and the way we are all always shilling for someone somewhere that I had to include it.
Happy Boxing Day! Here’s your latest playlist.
- Lil Nas X, “Old Town Road (featuring Billy Ray Cyrus)”: No, I don’t understand what bizarre deal with the devil Lil Nas X made, but this song is so earwormy that Chekov twitches when he hears it. That was a Star Trek reference, yo.
- Billie Ellish, “bad guy”: I’ve heard many, many great things about Billie Ellish, and I’ve tried on more than a few occasions to listen to and even enjoy her stuff. I can listen to it, but I’m not still not quite sure I can enjoy it. It’s just not for me. And that’s okay. It takes all sorts of music or all sorts of folks.
- The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, “Fire”: “I am the god of hellfire, and I bring you fire.” That’s how the song begins. The guy who sings it wears a headdress thingie that is also lit on fire. It’s crazy, and the song has a great organ hook, but it’s far less weird than that intro suggests.
- The Thorns, “Blue”: A “supergroup” (for lack of a better term) made up of Matthew Sweet, Shawn Mullins (that “Lullaby” guy), and Pete Droge, covering a song by the Jayhawks. The harmonies are pretty great.
- Bob Dylan, “Isis (Live)”: I kinda always loved this song, This live version (from the Bootleg Series, Volume 5) is even better than the studio version.
- Simon & Garfunkel, “America”: Just a beautiful song.
- Stroke 9, “Little Black Backpack”: One of those late 90s one hit wonder types that’s a lot of fun.
- Third Eye Blind, “Jumper”: One of the more upbeat songs about trying to talk someone down off the ledge.
- Vance Joy, “Riptide”: I still don’t know if the main rhythm instrument is some type of guitar or a mandolin or a ukulele or what, but I like it.
- The Wallflowers, “Back to California”: Rebel, Sweetheart is still one of my favorite Wallflowers albums.
Happy Tuesday! We enjoyed our Labor Day weekend, and I came up with this new playlist for you! Aren’t you lucky?
- Cory Branan, “When In Rome, When In Memphis”: Became obsessed with this song over the weekend. Jason Isbell and Brian Fallon (of Gaslight Anthem) add guest vocals, and the repeated refrain of “When I go, I ghost” just gets me.
- The National, “Weird Goodbyes (feat. Bon Iver)”: I’m a sucker for any new song by the National.
- Bob Dylan, “What Was It You Wanted”: Unofficial ADHD anthem, for the line “What was it you wanted/Tell me again, I forgot,” if nothing else.
- Jakob Dylan, “Will It Grow”: Is it gauche to follow up one Dylan with another? I don’t care. I like the song.
- Jars of Clay, “Age Of Immature Mistakes”: Well, if this isn’t just the song that ought to soundtrack most of my life choices.
- Pure Prairie League, “Amie”: There exists a version of this song sung by me, my father, my Uncle Randy, and Cousin David, and if there is any God it will never see the light of day. It is bad.
- Paolo Nutini, “New Shoes”: One of my students, many years ago, was absolutely obsessed with this song. I saw the music video for it. Did you know they were still making music videos in 2007?
- Nouvelle Vague, “Ever Fallen In Love”: The world needs more bossa nova covers of DC punk songs.
- Juliana Finch, “This Year”: You know I love me a Mountain Goats cover.
- John Prine, “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore”: Prine recognized the idiocy of this stuff back in the 1970s. Dude knew what was up with performative patriotism.
We spent the weekend up in New York, attending a funeral for my wife’s grandfather who passed suddenly late last week. It got me thinking about things like when I die and, me being me, the music I’d like played at my own funeral. This list is by no means exhaustive; a true funerary playlist would have to be at least three times this long. But these are the top ten songs I’d like played when I die.
- Iron & Wine, “Hard Times Come Again No More”: Funerals are often somber affairs. They don’t have to be, but they often are. This song carries that tone well.
- The Beatles, “Let It Be”: Preferably one of the versions with a George Harrison guitar solo, because I like George Harrison guitar solos.
- Harry Nilsson, “Many Rivers To Cross”: Sure, Nick Hornby may prefer the Jimmy Cliff version, but this is the one for me.
- Van Morrison, “Caravan (Live)”: Again, much like Nick Hornby, I love the live version of this song from the Too Late To Stop Now double live album, even if it does have the unfortunate circumstances of including band introductions halfway through. But all those guys will probably be dead by the time I die, and I’m willing to share the spotlight a bit.
- Bob Dylan, “I Shall Be Released”: I mean, it’s more about getting out of jail than getting out of this life, but I think it still works.
- Sean Watkins, “Let It Fall”: This song always felt like it belong over the closing credits to some heartfelt romantic drama. Or the end of one’s life.
- George Harrison, “All Things Must Pass”: No one does the transitory nature of existence better than George Harrison.
- Gin Blossoms, “Pieces Of The Night”: Life could just be one long night at the bar, trying to find someone, anyone, to spend just a moment with, a moment that might mean something. Or maybe I’ve already had too much gin.
- The National, “Gospel”: “Hang your holiday rainbow lights in the garden.”
- Wilco, “What Light”: This song is very simple. Many Wilco songs are. But it’s also transcendent. And I think it’d be nice to have a choir of my friends sing it.
This marks the one-year anniversary of me starting this playlist project. It’s kept me writing here for the whole year, which I like. I’ve even gotten back into working on Novel #7 (I’m well-past the halfway point, I think).
For this playlist, I thought about doing a retrospective, selecting my favorite songs from other playlists. But I decided against that. I’ll do another post later this week where I examine the playlists as a whole, looking at who got played the most and how many songs I repeated (I think just one? I’m not sure, but I’ll find out!).
Anyway, remember there’s the Patreon. I’m about to post April’s song. I’m pretty proud of it. Anyway, without further ado, here’s this week’s playlist:
- Dr. Dog, “Lonesome”: I love the guitar in this one. Pretty sure it’s a dobro or resonator.
- Andrew Bird, “Atomized”: Andrew Bird has a new album coming out this summer. I’m stoked. If this song is any indication, it’ll be a great one.
- Jorge Orozco, “Gran Vals”: Orignally composed by Francisco Tarrega, this is the song that Nokia got its ringtone from. It’s a very pretty song.
- Langhorne Slim & the Law, “Put It Together”: I’m a sucker for a shout-along chorus.
- The Doubleclicks, “This Is My Jam”: I like jam. Who doesn’t like jam? Commies, that’s who.
- Dolly Parton, “Jolene”: This is the slowed down version, the one from the 45 played at 33 1/3 RPM. It’s haunting.
- Aimee Mann, “Phoenix”: What is it about the way Aimme Mann writes and plays songs that just captivates me? I just love everything about her sound.
- Sam Cooke, “A Change Is Gonna Come”: Some days, you just need to let Sam take you home.
- Santana, “Evil Ways”: The way they add the, “baby,” to the end of certain lines in this song amuses me to no end.
- Bob Dylan, “Paths Of Victory”: My love for Dylan is no secret at this point. Someday, I’ll figure out an arrangement of this song for the guitar (rather than the piano he plays in this version). Until then, I’ll just have to sit and marvel at how well that man puts words together.
Happy Monday! I’m actually back to work today, after a month away taking care of the Wife. She’s improving every day, slowly but surely, and she’s well enough I’m comfortable leaving her home alone while I come toil away in education mines. A reminder that, if you want to support me making my own music, I’ve got that Patreon you can contribute to! I actually drop February’s song today!
- Genesis, “Turn It On Again”: I recently downloaded the album this song came from, Duke, and while this is definitely my favorite song off the whole record, the rest of the songs ain’t too shabby, either.
- Steve Winwood, “Back In The High Life Again”: “All the doors I closed one time/Will open up again.” Yes, they will.
- Aerosmith, “Back In The Saddle”: A bit of my anthem this morning.
- Andrew Bird, “Orpheo Looks Back”: Every playlist could benefit from some Andrew Bird, and I love this song.
- Bob Dylan, “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'”: “Beyond here lies nothin’/But the mountains of the past.” Maybe not Dylan’s most profound work ever, but I still dig the rhythm of this song and the guitar work.
- Gorillaz, “DARE”: I could dance this morning, I think.
- Glen Phillips, “Duck And Cover”: A more stripped-down version of a song that appeared on his Winter Pays For Summer album off of Tornillo.
- The Gaslight Anthem, “Stay Lucky”: Someday, I’ll put together a playlist of songs that I love to play on the guitar. This song will also appear on that list.
- Frank Turner, “The Way I Tend To Be”: I love this song for the mandolin mostly.
- CCR, “Midnight Special”: Another that I love to play on the guitar and howl along to at the top of my lungs, as one does with CCR songs.
Happy Monday after Thanksgiving, AKA “Online Consumer Armageddon.” I posted a list of stuff you can buy that benefits me back on Friday, for those who are curious. And now here I am with this week’s playlist, a set that features songs that are all about being long (but most of them are actually quite short).
- The Beatles, “Long, Long, Long”: Off the White Album, this quiet George Harrison gem is gorgeous and simple.
- Bruce Springsteen, “Long Time Comin'”: Features two of my favorite Boss lines: “Let your mistakes be your own” and “I ain’t gonna fuck it up this time.” Good stuff.
- Counting Crows, “A Long December”: With one of the best opening lines in any song, “A long December/And there’s reason to believe/Maybe this year will be better than the last.” Your lips to God’s ears.
- The Doobie Bros., “Long Train Runnin'”: My brother and I used to try to perform this one back in college. I…could not sing it then, and maybe sorta kinda can now, just not the way they do it.
- Green Day, “Longview”: I love how this song is mostly about the bass.
- The Hollies, “Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)”: That one song that you always kinda thought was CCR but you weren’t 100% sure.
- Jars of Clay, “The Long Fall”: I’ve been a fan of these guys since I was back in high school dating a preacher’s kid. I kinda fell off for a few years, but their most recent stuff is still pretty darn good.
- Little Richard, “Long Tall Sally”: How do you not include Little Richard on this playlist, hmm? That’s the real challenge here.
- Bob Dylan, “Tomorrow Is A Long Time”: I originally had a different Dylan song here (“The Man In The Long Black Coat”), but I think this one fits the general vibe and intent of the playlist better.
- Charlie Sexton, “It Don’t Take Long”: The train horn at the beginning of this song always throws me off, but it’s still lovely and all that.